This NFIRSGram explains how to document firefighter and civilian casualties on a National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) report.
- Firefighter casualty
- Any firefighter injured or killed because of the incident or during the mitigation of the incident, or a firefighter who is injured or killed while on duty, whether the injury or death occurred during an incident, such as during station duties, training, etc. A fire service casualty should be counted even if the fire department they are associated with is giving aid to a primary fire department.
- Civilian fire casualty
- Any nonfire department person who is injured or killed by a fire, including injuries or deaths from natural or accidental causes sustained while involved in the activities of fire control, attempting rescue or escaping from the dangers of the fire. Civilians include emergency personnel who are not members of the fire department, such as police officers or utility workers. Civilian fire casualties should only be counted by the primary fire department (Aid Given or Received Code 1, 2, 5, or N).
- Physical damage to a person in the fire service or physical damage as a result of a fire to a civilian that requires either treatment by a medical practitioner within 1 year of the incident or at least 1 day of restricted activity immediately following the incident.
- Reported death
- Includes a person (i.e., fire service or civilian) who dies within 1 year of being injured because of injuries sustained from an incident. For a civilian, the death must be related to a fire.
In the descriptions above, the deciding factor on when to count the injury or fatality for nonfire department personnel depends on whether the incident is fire related. Civilian casualties should only be counted if the incident is a fire (100 series of Incident Type codes).
Common questions received by the NFIRS Support Center involve determining when to include a casualty count on an NFIRS report.
Casualties are counted on the NFIRS Basic Module in Section H1. This section is used to count all firefighter injuries or deaths but only civilian injuries or deaths that are the result of a fire. Before we discuss how to document a casualty, we need to define a few of the terms used in NFIRS as they relate to firefighters and civilian casualties.
Fire departments should count casualties on the NFIRS Basic Module in Section H1. In this section, either the “None” box is checked or the numbers of civilian fire casualties and fire service casualties are entered.
Fire departments include a separate Fire Service Casualty Module for every fire service casualty reported in Section H1, as well as a separate Civilian Fire Casualty Module for every civilian casualty reported in Section H1 of the Basic Module.
This means that in Section H1, if a fire department counts 1 firefighter injury, 1 civilian fire injury, and 1 civilian fatality, the department would also include 1 Fire Service Casualty Module and 2 Civilian Fire Casualty Modules with the incident report. If a fire department does not include a casualty module for each casualty reported in Section H1, a warning error is returned by the system stating that the number of casualties reported on the Basic Module does not match the number of casualty modules. If a fire department receives this error after entering its casualty numbers and its casualty modules, the department should verify that it has entered a casualty module for each casualty counted in Section H1 of the Basic Module.
Sample coding scenarios for casualties
The fire department is dispatched to a vehicle accident. Upon arrival, firefighters discover that the vehicle has caught fire because of the accident and find 2 injured passengers, both of whom are suffering from fractures of the lower appendages.
In this scenario, the fire department would document the incident as a vehicle fire, but the injuries should not be counted as civilian fire casualties because the injuries sustained by the passengers are not a result of the fire but rather a result of the crash — fractures. In Section H1, the person completing the report would check the “None” box or mark 0 as the number of civilian and fire service casualties.
The fire department is dispatched to a vehicle accident. Upon arrival, firefighters discover that the vehicle has caught fire because of the accident and find 2 injured passengers, both of whom are suffering from fractures of the lower appendages. A passenger is also suffering from thermal burn injuries due to the fire extending into the passenger compartment.
In this scenario, the fire department would document the incident as a vehicle fire, but only 1 injury should be counted as a civilian fire casualty because only 1 injury sustained by a passenger in the vehicle is the result of the fire. In Section H1, the fire department would enter 1 civilian fire casualty and include a Civilian Fire Casualty Module for the burned passenger.
A firefighter is taking part in a training event and is injured when falling off a ladder. The fire department should create a report with an emergency medical services (EMS) Incident Type code, indicate in Section H1 of the Basic Module 1 fire service injury, and attach a Fire Service Casualty Module.
The fire department responds to a house fire. While the fire department is at the scene of the incident, a neighbor watching the incident suffers a heart attack. Since this injury is not caused by the neighbor escaping from the fire, attempting to control the fire, or attempting to rescue themselves or someone else from the dangers of the fire, the casualty should not be counted in Section H1 of the incident report. The fire department would likely create a separate incident report for this nonfire-related EMS incident.
- All firefighter casualties should be counted in Section H1 of the Basic Module, regardless of the Incident Type.
- Only the department to which the firefighter belongs documents the firefighter injury or death.
- Only those civilian casualties that are the result of a fire should be counted in Section H1 of the Basic Module.
- The documenting of casualties on the NFIRS report provides valuable information that can be correlated with occupancy type, structural conditions and other data to help understand how to reduce future fire injuries and deaths.
For more information about NFIRS, please contact the NFIRS Support Center: Monday – Friday between 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET, at 888-382-3827 or by email at email@example.com.